Why can’t I revise?

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There are a number of reasons why you might be feeling like you can’t revise. We will go through some common issues below, discussing some solutions to the problems. With our tips you will soon get your revision mojo back!

What to do if you have problems revising or can’t concentrate on revision

Revision is a skill to learn and it doesn’t come naturally. Not only this – but everyone is different. Think about signing up to a revision holiday club where you can learn how to revise whilst having fun and making friends.

What works for you may not work for your friend and vice versa. A well meaning friend might give you some written revision notes for you to read, but if you learn by listening or by writing them out yourself, it would be more productive if you had talked through the notes together and had made the notes yourself.

One of the first things that you can do is to find out what learning style suits you best so that you can achieve maximum productivity. Do you have a visual, aural, physical or verbal learning style? Most students are a mixture, but may find that one of two learning styles will be dominant.

There are many variable revision factors that may or may not work for you, depending on your learning style:

  • Revision environments – you might be wondering why you can’t revise at the desk in your bedroom – try another environment to see if your concentration improves. Try a quiet library, outside in the garden or noisy coffee shop. Some people work better with no noise, others are concentrate better with white, background noise
  • Length of studying sessions – try half an hour sessions or a few hours at a time
  • The time of day – do you feel more productive in the morning or at night?
  • Working alone or with others
  • Diagrams and mind maps – if you have a visual learning style these will help you remember more than listening to a lesson
  • Audio and visual – if you have an auditory learning style, you will memorise information better by using sound and music

How to revise if you are worried or stressed

It is quite normal to be nervous before your exams, but it becomes counterproductive if that worry stops you from revising. Take a deep breath and read through these tips:

  • Put the tests into perspective

SATs and GCSEs are a measure to see how you are doing in your school subjects, rather than being the deciding factor on your future

  • Make sure you talk about your stress

Sharing how you are feeling with an adult – whether that is your parents or your teachers – is important. They have the experience to be able to help and advise you. If you want to talk to someone confidentially who doesn’t know you, call Childline and talk to an advisor

  • Exercise

Exercise is known to reduce stress. The exercise needs to be something you enjoy, whether that is running, skipping, trampolining, horse riding, dancing or cycling. Exercising between revision sessions will keep you motivated

  • Make time for treats

Factor in treat time to revision plan! Watch your favourite TV programme, go for a swim or walk, make an ice cream sundae, or head outdoors into the garden – it is important that you spend some time having fun, laughing and doing the things that you enjoy in-between exams

How to revise if you have a fixed mindset

Some students have a ‘fixed mindset’, for example those who find lessons easy, so think that they don’t need to revise. Others perhaps believe a natural gift for a subject runs in their family, so they don’t have to put effort in to work for it. Or perhaps you think you are so bad at maths that no amount of revision can change that fact – you simply accept that you are going to get a low grade.

Having a fixed mindset can be really debilitating. You will not be able to learn new things, simply because of the way your mind is set.

The good news is that you can easily change that stubborn fixed mindset to a ‘growth mindset’ by understanding that if you do your best by working hard and making the effort to revise, then you will improve your results! If you find something difficult, take on the challenge, learn from your mistakes and try again.

Many famous names didn’t find success come easily to them – they had to work hard for it. J.K Rowling famously got turned down by many publishers before publishing Harry Potter, but she kept on trying. Michael Jordan didn’t find basketball easy but he put in huge amounts of effort and became arguably the world’s greatest basketball player.

How to revise if you feel overwhelmed

You may look at all the subjects you have to study and the immense amount of work ahead but instead of getting on with it you just freeze with sheer intimidation.

Take comfort in the fact that you will never have to study so many subjects again! After your GCSEs you will be able to just concentrate on the subjects you love best.

Break down your revision into bite-sized chunks and focus on one area at a time. You can do this by colour coding your revision notes into things you know, things you don’t and things you could improve on and make sure that you focus on the colour coded items you are less confident about.

How to revise if you work best under pressure

Some students work better when they are working against the clock. Are you one of those students who leaves homework until the last minute?

If this is you, you may find it hard to revise far in advance without the motivation of an imminent deadline. Buy a wall calendar for your bedroom and mark out your revision schedule for each topic and subject visually and you will instantly see how you need to use the time wisely.

How to revise if you can’t concentrate on revision

Distractions like Netflix, consoles and social media can eat up the time you should be spending on revision  so you need to recognise this and limit your time on them. Simply turn the distractions into incentives – use them as a timed reward for time spent revising.

Procrastinating is a common problem amongst all students  – if you find yourself colour coordinating your wardrobe or bookshelf instead of revising, set up a strict schedule and plan that you have to stick to and tick items off as you go. Routine is key!